A song with a great beat is a start. However, without meaningful lyrics, it’s hard for the music to hold it’s own. Here’s a thought: Consider picking up a book the next time you’re stuck on a refrain. Here are some reasons why every songwriter should be an avid reader:
Reading Expands Your Vocabulary
Lyricists should avoid sounding like Dr. Seuss and push for higher levels of verbiage. Don’t just rhyme “hot” with “pot”; rhyme “exhausted” with “accosted.” Pair “plastic bag” with “spastic hag.” Or don’t use any of those horrible rhymes and come up with your own. Expand your lyricism beyond the grade-school level.
Like Books, Songs Tell A Story
Literature is built upon themes: love, sacrifice, friendship, and ethical dilemmas. All of that can be found in songs that have stood the test of time. Elvis’ “Cant Help Falling in Love” wouldn’t be the same if it were “Can’t Help Tripping On A Banana Peel.” Literature pushes you deeper into the themes and motifs that relate to all audiences. Practice story-writing techniques to create more powerful songs.
Budding Musicians Can Learn From Successful Writers
In a way, musicians and writers face the same plights – as both are content creators. Writers block, getting published, and seeking inspiration are all obstacles writers must overcome. Learn from people who have played the game and succeeded at their art, no matter the medium.
At a glance, literature and music may seem completely unrelated. However, exposing yourself to more in-depth writing can dramatically improve your songwriting. Point your lyrics in the right direction and transform them into stories with meaning.
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Vivien Bui is a musician and writer. She enjoys going to concerts, writing at night, and sitting in a coffee shop with a good book.